By Giulia Piceni.
Attending a runway show is still a luxury for many, but Diesel has made access easier for many fashion enthusiasts during their last shows. I was fortunate enough to attend the SS 2024 show in person, which was a dream come true for an aspiring fashion journalist.
Covering rave culture, shredded jeans and apocalyptic references, the latest show by the all-red painted brand, designed by Glenn Martens, was an immersive experience that touched upon various themes. Read on to discover the show’s highlights while feeling the raindrops pouring on you!
ABOUT FASHION DEMOCRATISATION: SEE THE “RAVE CULTURE” CHAPTER
Diesel has done it again: for the second time in its history, the brand has opened its fashion show’s doors to the public, erasing the MFW’s privilege and giving access to fashion students, Diesel enthusiasts and all the lucky ones who managed to get a ticket on the online platform.
Food trucks, beverages area and even chemical toilets: everything at the SS 2024 Diesel show aligned with the techno festival vibe it was referencing. The venue was the old Scalo Farini, where guests were greeted with an enormous concert-approved screen that projected a blinding red light in the sky. Bulldog Gin, the event’s main sponsor, offered four drinks to keep bodies warm and souls active for the two-hour dancing that preceded the show, accompanied by techno tracks by music composer Senjan Janse.
The choice of a techno DJ set aligned with the brand’s mission to democratise fashion. Rave culture epitomises equality: there are no hierarchies on the dance floor. A track doesn’t need background knowledge to be enjoyed; for decades, this kind of music has been a nightlife refuge for all those who felt excluded from society, including the queer community.
The runway show featured 73 looks and had the atmosphere of a concert, a rave, except that the audience was not looking at musicians or DJs but at models and the clothes they were wearing. However, just like during a music performance, attendees raised their smartphones to capture the perfect shot to post on Instagram. In this case, they would mainly take pictures of VIP guests who stood near the models’ walkable path wearing Diesel logo-printed raincoats and didn’t have to get soaking wet or stretch their necks to catch a glimpse of the looks.
ACID RAIN TEARING CLOTHES APART
While dancing and waiting for the Diesel show to begin, the mild September air of a Milanese night brought a thin rain that would soon transform into a cloudburst. Just like at Alexander McQueen’s SS 1998 show, Golden Shower, the magic that happened on the runway is something I will always be proud to have seen in person. Although the right wasn’t at its best from the parterre, the young public loved the pieces on display, as the crowd’s cheering and appreciation were heard throughout the show.
If I had to pick one look to represent the many references of the SS 2024 Diesel show, that would be look 64. It was a perfect balance of rain, ashes and fire, epitomising the catastrophe printed on the nylon puffy jacket and even in the flaming D logo on the 1DR, which was the season’s it-bag.
The show combined dystopian and apocalyptical elements, with acid rain imaginatively tearing clothes apart. The setting was a futuristic beach with sharp sand grains that led to shredded jeans with holes and transparent patches. The plastics found on the shores were moulded into rigid bomber jackets (look 63), symbolising a planet that couldn’t find a cure for human stupidity.
Watching the show, I couldn’t help but be struck by the glum poetry of seeing the models walking steadily on the runway, even though wetted by rain just like the 5,000 non-VIP guests. It reminded me that holding on and moving forward is key, even in hard times.
It was a matter of seconds, and when the runway show ended, even the rain stopped falling, as if that involuntary special effect had finished its service to fashion, allowing all the guests to continue the night partying there.
INTERPRETING GLENN MARTENS’ REFERENCES
With this SS 2024 Diesel show, I think Glenn Martens gave proof of unprecedented creative maturity, incorporating elements from his stylistic repertoire at the full-red OTB’s brand on the runway. For instance, the shredded, devoré denim combined with tulle that appeared on mini dresses, bras and polo shirts of the first looks was a feature previously seen in a more patchworky style in the SS 2023 show. However, in this collection, the models’ distressed garments seemed to have survived a sand storm like in Dune, days of drought and even an apocalypse, as if they were the only fashionable belongings of their wearers, memories of a once-ideal, forgotten world.
The metallic body paint applied from hair to toe to a few models went from gold to rose gold, lilac and whitish-silver, giving them a colour-block look similar to the pink, orange and turquoise alien triad from the FW 2022 show.
From space to the deepest ocean, Diesel’s Creative Director seems fascinated with fictitious, scary beings. In a few looks, this stylistic ploy was paired with iridescent, body-hugging midi or ankle-length dresses that gave off a mermaid vibe, as if this imaginative marine creature had been plunged in some kind of acid and emerged with an edgy allure.
Glenn Martens’ dystopian techno epic may have started on a barren land, but it eventually culminated on the shores of a growingly polluted ocean inhabited by dangerously seductive sirens. After all, it is an SS collection, and Diesel has successfully managed to bring a dystopian beach rave into the heart of conservative Milan: it is a collection with apocalyptic touches that echo and predict our complex times.